San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

June 22nd, 2015
Hays County groundwater bill becomes law


AUSTIN — Closing a 170.8-square-mile loophole in local groundwater regulation, legislation that dramatically expands the jurisdiction of the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District became law on Sunday.

Authored by State Rep. Jason Isaac who said it was his most pressing priority this year, HB 3405 charges the Austin-based conservation district with monitoring and administering pumping from the Trinity Aquifer in roughly a quarter of Hays County. This so-called “white zone” fell outside the geographic jurisdiction of the Hays Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and outside the geologic jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority, which is enabled to regulate only the Edwards and not underlying aquifers.

The new law authorizes BSEACD to require registration and permitting of Trinity Aquifer wells in its newly annexed territory, except for exempt low-producing, agricultural wells. The law also authorizes BSEACD to levy a fee of up to 17 cents per 1,000 gallons on wells within its enlarged footprint.

BSEACD directors and staff say they will host town hall meetings this summer to acquaint their new constituents with the district’s policies and procedures for well owners. One such meeting is penciled-in for late July in San Marcos and another for late August in the Driftwood area. Times, dates and meeting details will be announced when the schedule is finalized.

After a melodrama of near-death experiences in both the House and Senate this spring, HB 3405 became effective at midnight Saturday without Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature — but, crucially, without his veto, either. The legislation was carried in the upper chamber by State Sen. Donna Campbell, a New Braunfels Republican.

Elsewhere on the Internet

BSEACD online well registration form


HB 3405 frequently asked questions | 06/02/15

HB 3405 implementation timeline  | 06/17/15

Proposed BSEACD rule changes  |  06/11/15


CORRECTION 11:36 a.m. JUNE 22: The story should have said that the Hays County “white zone” fell within the Edwards Aquifer Authority geographic boundaries but was outside its legal jurisdiction.

The EAA is authorized to regulate groundwater withdrawals from the Edwards Aquifer but not from underlying aquifers such as the Trinity. BSEACD is authorized to regulated groundwater from any aquifer beneath its footprint.

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